Yesterday could not have been a more beautiful day. The sky was crystal blue with wisps of clouds painted here and there across its palette. The cooler temperatures were a welcome reprieve from the hot conditions that kept us indoors and out of the blazing sun for a good portion of the summer.
What better way to take in this gorgeous day than with a picnic at the playground! I loaded up our picnic basket with traditional fare including sandwiches, cookies, tomatoes, and grapes. With a basket full of goodies and two boys eager to enjoy the day, we set out to one of our favorite playgrounds in the neighborhood. The climbing structures are perfect for an adventurous five-year-old and the Astroturf and covered playground spaces are ideal for a crawling infant.
With cooler temperatures in the forecast for the next few days, it seemed like the right time to make a hearty pot of vegetable beef soup. It’s a great dinner fix but also pulls double duty by serving as leftovers for the week. I love anything that takes the stress out of midweek meal planning.
This soup offers a wide variety of options and provides an ideal mix of fresh and canned items so it’s easy to pull from your kitchen staples in a pinch. Without the ground beef, it’s also a delicious vegetarian choice. Adding brown rice or barley can stretch the soup even further too.
- 4 cups of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable all suffice)
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 1 can of cut green beans, drained
- 1 can of whole kernel sweet corn, drained (frozen works great too)
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 4-6 small white potatoes, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- parmesan cheese to garnish
In a large soup pot over medium high heat, saute onions and garlic in some olive oil until fragrant. Next add the carrots, and saute for a few mintues. Then add the ground beef and saute until brown. Next it’s go time for the tomatoes, garbanzo beans, potatoes, and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover, turn up the heat (high), and bring to a boil for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the green beans and corn and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft. Turn the heat off and stir in the fresh spinach. Serve with artisan rolls and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan cheese.
A hearty soup, delicious artisan rolls, and a glass of red wine made for a perfect dinner. Liam and Atticus had their fill of vegetables, and both smiled through the entire meal. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday with my favorite bears.